Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: Samgirl2 on August 25, 2013, 06:14:42 AM

Title: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Samgirl2 on August 25, 2013, 06:14:42 AM
The modern conundrum? My Mum can't stand it and doesn't think much of my BIL. I really don't know him that well but I must admit I don't have a very high opinion of him. Not because he's not earning, but because he spends my sister's money like there are no problems.

My sister got married a year ago. She is 29, a fairly senior hospital doctor and earning a very decent wage. He is also 29 and was an engineer and also earning a decent wage. They had been in a long distance relationship for 2 years (due to work commitments) and shortly before proposing to her he decided he wanted a career change and applied to medical school to be a doctor like her. She didn't know he was about to propose but did see a future with him and tried to advise him against it because she knew how hard it would be and how long it would take and that it would affect their family plans with him not earning and studying long hours and her working crazy shifts to support them. She also didn't want to be so much more senior to him and have the possibility he may do placements in her department and she'd have to be his boss.

He applied anyway and was accepted to a medical school near my sister so they would no longer be long distance. I don't have a problem with this if it's his vocation. What I do have a problem with is that he proposed shortly after, knowing that he had no job, and wouldn't have one for 5 years.

My sister accepted and they were engaged for a year. During this time he started medical school and lived in a student house near my sis because they do not believe in living together before marriage and he 'wanted to get to know his fellow students and experience student life'.

During the year they were engaged my sister was in the process of buying a house, which my parents were helping her with. He got very involved in the process, even emailing my parents directly with more expensive properties suggesting they help a bit more and go over their budget. Eventually a smaller house was settled on and my sister and my parents put down a large deposit. They then started to shop for furniture. My sis obviously wanted him to be involved as he would soon be moving in, but he pressed her to spend more and more money. She would have got everything from IKEA if she had a choice but he pushed for 'proper' furniture because it was their marital home and he wanted it to be nice. She paid for everything and to came to much much more than she wanted to pay. She would rather have built up their possessions but he wanted everything now.

The wedding - my parents paid for the majority, as the parents of the bride. His parents gave the couple 5000 towards it, but they used it for things on the house and their honeymoon, my parents didn't see a penny. He then asked my parents if they would pay for his and the groomsmen's suits, transport to the church and a nice car for him to hire to drive my sister away in. My parents put their foot down and I strongly agree. Maybe I'm old fashioned but he wasn't bringing anything to the marriage, the least he could do is get himself to the church and buy his own suit. If you can't afford 6 groomsmen then don't have them!

It's now been a year since the wedding. While he has enough money of his own to pay his tuition for medical school, my sister is supporting him for everything else. Essentially her salary has been halved. Now, I think in marriage you have agreed that you are a team and that 'what's mine is yours, what's your's is mine' kind of thing. But I still think he's taking it too far.

He wants them to live a lifestyle they just can't afford until he is working as well. He kept on about skiing holidays but my sis put her foot down. Then he wanted them to travel around the USA, again, she said no, they could holiday in europe much cheaper. He also pushes her to hang out with his student friends, but they are nearly 10 years younger than him and she finds it tiring and boring because they are all medical students and so far behind her in the job that she gets frustrated and has nothing in common with them.

They have just been in India for a wedding of his cousin who works out there and is marrying a local girl. My sister has paid for the flights and their accomodation at a 5 star hotel where all his family were staying. The family were all staying there for 10 days for a relaxing holiday, which is what my sis wanted to do as well, despite the cost (she dipped into savings), as she works such long hours she just wanted a break. however he wanted to see more of India and booked them onto a 5 day tour of the main cities and sights in the region. However he got the dates wrong, so they arrived in Delhi for the tour 24 hours early. My sister burst into tears because she was so tired and they'd left the lovely hotel and arrived at the budget tour one with no rooms! Luckily they found somewhere else to stay for the night and joined the tour the next day.

However, the other part of his arrangement was that she flew home alone yesterday as she could only get 2 weeks off work, while he stayed behind, flying to Nepal to do some trekking. Again at her expense. I, and my family, really think that if your wife has to return home for work after two weeks, then you return with her, you don't go off on a jolly by yourself and say 'see ya'.

My sister is very loyal and believes in marriage so she would never say anything to us. But I do know she is very frustrated sometimes and she's keen to have a family but can't until he has graduated and found a job.

She also drives a car that's a bit of an old banger but she loves it. However he is pushing her to get something new because he says it doesn't look good or fit her persona as a doctor! He has a little Golf that his parents helped him buy.

I feel like he just doesn't understand his role as a husband? He doesn't feel the need to provide or support her. He treats her like a housewife, not helping with any chores, while she also works long hours. 

For 6 months of this first year of marriage she also had to work in a hospital 4 hours away, living in doctor's accommodation. She travelled home whenever she could, but it was often every 10 to 14 days. He only visited her once, preferring to spend time with his friends, saying she only had a single bed there and it wasn't comfortable. She would arrive home late in the evening for a 2 day visit and find no food in the fridge and him out with friends.  The one time he did go and visit her, he said to my Mum - "I had forgotten how much fun Emily is" we had a really nice weekend. She is HIS WIFE!!!!!!

My Mum gets really angry an my Dad thinks he doesn't treat her right and sometimes I have to play the peacemaker when my Mum goes on a rant to me on the phone.

I couldn't be married to him, I wouldn't respect him enough, but my sister seems happy aside from the financial and spending time together issues. They do seem very in love. I just think he doesn't understand what it means to be a husband. He never makes her his priority. If she's coming home for the weekend she has to fit in with his plans - e.g. go to the pub with his friends, go to a bbq or the cinema with his friends, go to lunch. She's very social but it seems odd he never wants her to himself? Mind you, their relationship has always been like that.

Addition: I'm not married myself, but I feel very strongly that I would want to still be independent in my finances to an extent. I wouldn't feel comfortable relying completely on someone else or spending someone else's money. Most of my friends have joint bank accounts for household expensesnand then retain a portion in their own accounts for whatever they want to buy themselves.

I'd be interested in other people's opinions, especially anyone who's been in this position?


Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: veryfluffy on August 25, 2013, 06:25:07 AM
Why is this any of your business? Your approval is entirely immaterial.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: IceCreamTEA on August 25, 2013, 06:28:01 AM


Absolutely none of your business.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Perfect Circle on August 25, 2013, 06:29:44 AM
All of this is between the husband and the wife and absolutely none of your concern.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Samgirl2 on August 25, 2013, 06:30:24 AM
It's not my business. But I have to listen to my mother get very cross about it. Just wondered what other people's opinions were.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Sharnita on August 25, 2013, 06:31:33 AM
As far as etiquette, your mom should not be mkaing you responsible for herfrusration overyour sister's marriage. You are certsinly allowed to have ypur private feelings but don't share them with others. If your sister comes to you upset, be supportive but at the same time dpn't nad mouth.him. "I'm sorry, tjat sounds very frustrating/upsetting"
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: guihong on August 25, 2013, 06:32:12 AM
You don't have to listen to it.  Tell your mother, "It's absolutely none of my business" or "None of our business", and bean dip.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: perpetua on August 25, 2013, 06:38:02 AM
It's not my business. But I have to listen to my mother get very cross about it. Just wondered what other people's opinions were.

It's none of your mother's business either. She sounds entirely too involved in her daughter's marriage. Just tell her you'd rather not hear it.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: wallaby on August 25, 2013, 06:40:05 AM
You obviously care deeply about your sister. If this was my sister it would also frustrate me no end to see this. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about it. Hopefully when BIL graduates your sister can start a family and be a SAHM for a while, if she wants to, on BIL's financial backing.

However, I do wonder how upset your mother would be if this was your *brother* and it was his *wife* who was being financially supported, and not the other way round? Maybe it would be exactly the same, maybe it wouldn't? My SIL is a SAHM and is fully supported by my BIL while she is studying part time, taking overseas trips, generally having a pretty good lifestyle of her choosing. No one seems to bat an eye at this in DH's family.

PS > I don't agree that family members cannot take an interest in each other affairs!!! That is part of being part of a caring family unit IMHO. These are not strangers. So far no one has said anything to sister or BIL; there is no 'interfering' in the marriage or offering unsolicited advice as far as I can tell.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Goosey on August 25, 2013, 06:40:58 AM
Agreed. Tell them that it's not their business.


P.S.  how they used the money they got from their parents isn't their business either. Why would they expect to see a penny of it? Either they offered to help with the wedding or they didn't, but any additional monies weren't their concern.

Your sis married him knowing it was going to be tough financially and time wise. Why do you blame him for this?

He doesn't sound like he has the best financial know how, but that is between him and your sister. If your sister talks to you about, know you're only getting one side of the story and haven't participated in any of the conversations they've had. She's venting.

Also, the India thing was an honest mistake. Her flying home alone was prearranged (so why the heck is it a big deal).

In other words - I think you and your parents are determined to think ill of him when you don't have half the info. 

Tell your parents it's not their business. Their daughter is an adult in an adult relationship and they have to respect that.

Also, warn your sister that she might want to pull back on venting to her parents.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: JoyinVirginia on August 25, 2013, 06:41:46 AM
They are both adults. Its their marriage, not the family marriage. If she expresses being unhappy then you could suggest she talk directly with her husband about what she wants, or that they see a counselor or she sees one on her own. If she complains about her husband to you, ask her what SHE wants to do, and don't take it as an opportunity to bash him.
The more critical someone is of her husband, the more your sister might feel she has to defend him.
They are now married, they have to figure out budgeting and the priorities in their marriage on their own.  I would advise that the family let your sister and her husband figure out finances on their own. No loans or large financial gifts ever.
I have a good friend who has been with her male partner over twenty years. They have always had a rocky relationship, with problems then would get along wonderfully them have problems again. Always very dramatic when things were not going well. About fifteen years ago I finally told her she was a lovely person, but I did not want to hear about the problems with her partner any more because all it did was make me think badly of him, and then when she would go thru yet another honeymoon phase I would still know all the things that he had done to make her feel badly.
So that's how I have handled things in the past. Told the person their marriage or relationship is something they need to figure out, and please don't tell me the problems or put me in the middle.
I think everyone needs to respect that they are adults and have the right to make their own decisions, even if that is not what you would do.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Jloreli on August 25, 2013, 06:49:13 AM
I'm not sure what your etiquette question is with this?
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Lady Snowdon on August 25, 2013, 06:51:15 AM
How on earth do you know so much about their finances?  If, as you say, your sister doesn't talk about a lot of this, then it must be coming from somewhere, and it's probably not a completely accurate account.

Tell your mom to stop venting to you, since this shouldn't be the concern of either of you.  Neither of you are the guardians of your sister's money.  If you feel there's problems in the marriage, the most you can really do is just let your sister know that you're there for her no matter what.  Everything else should be dropped, as again, it's not your concern. 
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Samgirl2 on August 25, 2013, 06:57:15 AM
Wow, OK. To clarify:

My sister talks to my mum, my mum worries and she tells me, wanting to discuss it. She is also very traditional and believes in traditional marriage roles and can't get her head around a man willing to live off his wife. That's how I know everything I know.

I have never brought this up with my sister and have never discussed her relationship or talked badly about her husband. Because they live several hours from me and are very busy I don't see them that often which is why I don't know my BIL very well so my opinion is mostly on what I hear. I talk to my sis on the phone all the time, but we never discuss him.

I have tried telling my mum that they are adults, in an adult relationship and she should leave them to it, but it doesn't work. She is very overprotective of my sister as her youngest and she gets more cross if I say it's none of her business.

I posted everything here in the hope of getting an opinion from outside of my family. I guess that was clearly a bad move.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Sharnita on August 25, 2013, 07:03:51 AM
I think you can point out that you didn't bring him in to yhe family.and you have no power to remove him from the family.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: LeveeWoman on August 25, 2013, 07:08:30 AM
Whip out a barrel of bean dip whenever your mother starts talking about it. If that doesn't work, you can leave the room, the house, et cet.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Goosey on August 25, 2013, 07:13:17 AM
Just keep repeating that you're not going to talk about it and follow through. If you keep saying it but never actually do it, it's not going to do any good. Also, you can remind them that your sister had a choice in everything - the furniture, etc. it sounds like she's not adverse to putting her foot down when it matters to her, so when something happens (a tour of India, getting married when he's jobless, buying more furniture than she wanted) it happened because she agreed to it. She's not a helpless victim here.

And do warn your sister about your parents' issues here. She should stop venting to them if it stresses them out so much.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: daen on August 25, 2013, 07:16:39 AM

<snip>
I have tried telling my mum that they are adults, in an adult relationship and she should leave them to it, but it doesn't work. She is very overprotective of my sister as her youngest and she gets more cross if I say it's none of her business.

I posted everything here in the hope of getting an opinion from outside of my family. I guess that was clearly a bad move.


If nothing else, you've had some reinforcement that what you've been telling your mum is the way to go: your sister and brother-in-law are adults, and what they're doing is their own business.

I agree with previous posters - do what you need to to remove yourself from the topic. Change the subject, and if that doesn't work, walk away. It's not like discussing it helps the situation at all, and it sounds like you don't enjoy those conversations anyway.

Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Iris on August 25, 2013, 07:18:46 AM
I think you are getting people's opinions, it's just that in my opinion there is nothing to be gained by this level of involvement. There are things in your story that would bother me personally in the spouse of my sibling, but again nothing would be gained by saying what those things are. In my experience it is easy to judge the relationships of others but the thing is - people make their choices. This man, with all his flaws, is the man your sister chose to be with and to remain with.

It seems that your sister is involving your mother and your mother, in turn, is involving you. Your mother's outmoded views on gender roles are her own problem, but in general it is wrong for her to be passing on so much private information about your sister's life. I think if you want to support your sister you would be best to refuse to discuss this with your mother. Hang up if necessary. Your mother may complain but in the end your sister's needs should be coming first here and I'm sure she doesn't need a Greek Chorus commenting on every aspect of her life.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: pharmagal on August 25, 2013, 07:46:11 AM
To me this whole situation resembles a traditional marriage where one partner is working and the other is a SAHM/student.    Whether she is the sole breadwinner or not, it doesn't matter.  Why should a person, male or female be stuck in one profession their entire life?  Personally I think it's admirable that he wants to go into medicine, and it's great that he sees the example your sister is setting and is inspired by her.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: JoieGirl7 on August 25, 2013, 08:10:18 AM
This isn't about "traditional" roles in marriage.  If their roles were reversed would you be ok with that?  The problem seems to be that they have different ideas of what it means to be married and your sister is too busy to address it, change it, or whatever it is that she wants to do.

You mother is likely seeing and hearing of problems and is pinning the cause of those problems on your sister being the breadwinner but that's not the problem.

It doesn't sound like your mother likes your sister's husband very much and that could cause her to see any problem that your sister talks to you about as being so much bigger than it really is.

Marriage is what you make it.  It's really up to the two individuals involved to determine the roles they are going to take.  That can be difficult for outsiders looking in because they are always going to try and pin perceived problems on roles not being fulfilled properly instead of what the actual problems may be.

Your sister is an adult and your mother needs to treat her as one, not indulging or encouraging her complaints but encouraging her, if there are problems, to seek solutions so that she can be happy.

That doesn't mean telling her what she thinks the solutions should be.  It means saying "you don't seem to be happy, I am concerned for you, how can I help."  You can do the same thing.

You can also help your mom by reminding her that she should be supportive in a way that respects your sister's decisions even if she does not agree with them.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: onyonryngs on August 25, 2013, 08:13:21 AM
It's never a good idea to talk about your sister behind her back.  You need to address it with her and tell your mom not to put you in the middle. Your sis just needs to know you are there for her, but this is her relationship and you get to give advice only if she asks. 
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Sharnita on August 25, 2013, 08:17:22 AM
If your sister became a doctor it doesn't seem like she'd be a traditional SAHM no matyer who she married. Yes, she might have a kid a little sooner but would she really give up her pofession and have the "traditional" roles your mom imagines where the hubby goes to work and she staus home? That seems unlikely.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Zilla on August 25, 2013, 08:18:39 AM
I agree with others.  I would tell your mom, "You are talking to the wrong daughter. I didn't marry him.  Please call her. then bean dip."



Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: suzieQ on August 25, 2013, 08:33:46 AM
My opinion is that he is a gold-digger. I would have the same opinion if the roles were reversed, with the woman doing all the spending. But your sister married him knowing this about him. You can't do anything about it but bean dip when your Mom wants to talk about it, or simply tell your Mom it's none of anyone's business how they run their marriage. Sister needs to stop talking about it to Mom and talk about it to her husband.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Goosey on August 25, 2013, 08:43:40 AM
How is he a gold digger if he's going back to school? He IS planning on working again, he's paying for his own school. It's an arrangement the sister agreed to.

Stay at home husbands aren't automatically gold diggers because they don't have income. That's an inconcievable assertion to me.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: thedudeabides on August 25, 2013, 08:56:36 AM
Just keep telling your mother you're not going to listen to this, because it's none of her or your business.  And if she keeps trying to talk about it, walk away or hang up the phone -- make it clear you're not listening.  You guys don't have to like your sister's husband, but she very clearly walked into this relationship with her eyes wide open.

As far as the "gold digger" thing... I got nothing. 
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Queen of Clubs on August 25, 2013, 09:05:40 AM
OP, I think your etiquette issue is "how do I shut my mother down on this subject without making her angry or hurting her feelings?"

If you've been telling your mom that it's none of your business, you're right - and if she chooses to get upset or angry that you don't want to be involved, there's nothing you can do about that.  Your mom sounds very involved in your sister's marriage.  Is the marriage a huge mistake and a disaster in the making?  Possibly.  But it's your sister's choice and until she chooses to leave, there isn't much anyone can do but offer support if *she* complains or looks for advice.  Unfortunately, I don't think your mom wants to hear that and she's probably using you as an outlet about her frustrations about the marriage.

All I can suggest is that you keep on telling her it's none of your business.  Good luck with it.  It must be frustrating for you and for your parents.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: A.P. Wulfric on August 25, 2013, 09:11:31 AM
They got married. From how it sounds, it is no longer HER money, but THEIR money. Would you and your mom be ramping on about this if your sister took a number of years off after having kids (just play along here...) and he was the breadwinner? Would that be okay?  She's working, he's in school. It happens.  It's not your business. It's not your mom's business. 
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: dharmaexpress on August 25, 2013, 09:14:05 AM
We have one of these in my family, and they've now been married for over 30 years.  He's worked less than half of that time.  His wife (my blood relative) has never said an ill word about him.

I find that most of the time, no comment is required when other people want to talk about someone.  I just listen and say "Hm", and "Oh" and "Mm hm" and eventually they finish and move onto something else.

Your sister is making her choices, and what everyone else thinks is immaterial.  Have you tried the bean dip?
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: guihong on August 25, 2013, 09:19:05 AM
OP, now you know that when/if you get married, your mum will probably discuss your private business with your sister and be all up in your marriage.  So, similar to the "snooping" threads advice, don't say anything you wouldn't want up on a billboard for all to see.

Was this a marriage to a man outside your culture or someone from an income bracket that might as well be on Pluto compared to yours?  It's possible that you just plain don't know him or his background very well (if you don't see him much).  OTOH, you may just not like him, and that's OK.  But, your sister chose him, and chose all the other situations, too.  Be supportive, but stay totally out of the advice department.  If she feels the need to change, she will talk to her husband.

If you were asking our opinions on gender roles and breadwinners- there were many, many couples who permanently or temporarily depended on a wife's income, even back in the "good old days".  Providing has nothing to do with the qualities that make a good husband.  You want to avoid coming across as judgemental, as I'd be willing to bet on a board this large, there are couples with any kind of arrangement for short or long-term. 

Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: miranova on August 25, 2013, 09:22:09 AM
You need to stop thinking of your sister as a victim.  She is making her own choices and no one can force her to marry anyone she doesn't want to, or buy furniture she doesn't want, or go on a tour of India that she doesn't want to go on.  Your worry is misplaced.  If these things bother her, she is capable of speaking up for herself.  You yourself say in your OP that she seems happy!  So, what's the issue here? 

I'm not saying I think the guy is all that great, but it's not my decision and you yourself say that they seem very much in love.  I know couples in my own life where their arrangements would NEVER work for me but it makes no difference if it works for them. 
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Yvaine on August 25, 2013, 09:42:16 AM
It sounds to me like she has agreed to largely support him while he's in school. This is not in any way an uncommon or "wrong" arrangement. If this is what they've agreed to, then he isn't required to be the main breadwinner just because he's "a husband"--this is the 21st century and a wife can be the breadwinner too, if that's what they've agreed on. It sounds like he might have expensive tastes beyond his current means, and probably should be doing more of the chores, but that's between him and his wife. And she may like going out on the weekends! None of this is your mom's business.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Jones on August 25, 2013, 09:44:37 AM
I am the breadwinner. My husband and I started out making small money together. I had chances and took them, and now singly make more than we used to make together (though still not tons). He raises the kids and answers at his family's call when they need him (gramma's farm, MIL's upholstery business, etc). I feel extremely lucky that I have him for childcare, he loves our kids and teaches them, and recently began homeschooling our daughter. And I don't have to pay for a private school or daycare. He's helped out his family many times in ways that he couldn't if he'd been working.

If word came to me that my family was discussing him the way OP's mother describes the BIL, there would be heck to pay.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Samgirl2 on August 25, 2013, 09:57:40 AM
Again, I'm not saying its my business. I'm saying this is the situation, this is what I think based on the info I get on a regular basis from my mother. Do other people see a problem in the situation, have they been in it themselves so I can say sonething to my mother. She doesn't allow herself to be beandipped!

I don't discuss this with my sister. I do think she has made her own choice.

I have no problem with reverse roles, I have friends who have supported each other for different periods. The difference is they seemed to deal a lot better at it, lived within their means and the husban was mire supportive than my Bil seems to be.

I merely wanted to see if people thought it was normal/ok and how I should respond when my parents fret.

I do not want to interfere, which is why I said I have never brought it up with my sis.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: thedudeabides on August 25, 2013, 10:03:14 AM
If she won't stop talking about it, walk away or hang up the phone.  If she won't let the beandipping work, then don't engage in the conversation.  YOU have the power here not to allow it to continue.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: guihong on August 25, 2013, 10:05:04 AM
Of course you can beandip.  You can also hang up.  Dang it, the cat's on fire again, and so on  ;D.  It doesn't matter if your mum gets mad, you can decide to stand up and say "I don't want to hear it-bye".  I know that's tough if she's always gotten her way up to now, but you can't control another person-only yourself.

Only your sister can say if there's a problem in her marriage.  We can't, as I for one am getting the impression that we're hearing your mother's version only, and that version is painted with a strong brush of dislike for her son in law and "this is how marriage is supposed to be, and anything else is wrong".   Tell your mom your sister made her choice, and you're not going to discuss it further.  Then stick to it.

"Normal" and "OK" is whatever works for the couple involved.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Redsoil on August 25, 2013, 10:08:16 AM
Samgirl2,  I understand that within an etiquette purview, people may feel this should be the business only of the couple themselves.

Having said that, I do understand your concern.  Both you and your mother care about what's going on is your sister's life, and it seems you are worried that she's being taken advantage of. 

Taking the genders out:

Partner A works hard and supports the household.  Works long hours and also does ALL the household chores.

Partner B is studying, but also going out partying a lot, staying away on holiday when partner A had to come home to work (to support, in part, partner B's lifestyle choices.)

Partner A is having to pay for more expensive items than they would otherwise have chosen, including house, furniture, holidays and socialising.

Sounds like there is quite an imbalance there.  If it were a friend of mine, I would be worried.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Luci on August 25, 2013, 10:20:44 AM


I merely wanted to see if people thought it was normal/ok and how I should respond when my parents fret.

I do not want to interfere, which is why I said I have never brought it up with my sis.

I can't define "normal", but it's OK. They are not hurting anyone. Your sister is seemingly dealing with the situation and knows how to change it if necessary if she feels it is hurting her. That is why it is noone's business but theirs.

I would tell my parents not to fret. Sis is a big girl and can take care of her own life.

And I think I might mention to my sister how stirred up the parents get when she talks to them, IF she does. Sis should keep her own counsel and not burden others. MAYBE the parents are just upset from what they observe and imagining from what Sis says. "This happened," and then the parents go off on a crazyness imagining implications, misunderstanding how Sis really feels, and making unfounded judgements. I know lots of people who do that and get worked up over nothing. (I'm emphasizing those words because we don't really know.)

I think the issue is NOT the couple's lifestyle, but how the parents are reacting to it.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: DollyPond on August 25, 2013, 10:31:23 AM
You need to stop thinking of your sister as a victim.  She is making her own choices and no one can force her to marry anyone she doesn't want to, 

My brother is in a similar situation and they have been married for over 30 years.  After a while you need to realize that the "victim" becomes an accomplice.  No one would allow themselves to be "victimized" that long.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: zinzin on August 25, 2013, 10:39:23 AM
Many marriages have portions that are long distance. Many marriages have one partner still in school while the other is the primary bread-winner. Saying he's a gold-digger is unsupported, and he's not a "stay at home husband", he's a student. Your mother needs to butt out - and you need to tell her you don't want to hear about it anymore. Even happy relationships can be poisoned by in-law meddling.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: delabela on August 25, 2013, 10:47:25 AM
If I was in your shoes, I would suggest to my mother that she should consider that she is actually hurting sister by allowing her to complain and wallow in the details of her marriage with an outsider.  If sister wants to change something, that's up to her.  I would also refuse to discuss it any further with my mother.  Your sister is obviously getting something out of the marriage, and no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors.

I am troubled by the assertion he's a gold digger - he's a student, he's not sitting around playing video games all day. 

I would note that it's rarely useful to keep a tally-sheet in a marriage - financial or otherwise.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: shhh its me on August 25, 2013, 10:52:31 AM
  Unless your sister talked to you I think you need to start shutting your mom down.

"Normal" people vent about their spouses but it's a really bad idea to vent to the people who will be spending Christmas dinner with you spouse for the next 50 years (using Christmas as an example ) Your sister is absolutely entitled to ask you mom for advice but venting this much to the persons MIL is a really really bad idea.  I do think you can speak to your sister about that , "Sis you can talk to me or ask for advice but I think you need to know mom is starting to hold a grudge against hubby. you might want to consider how what you tell her permanently effect her opinion of your husband."  There is a more  tactful way to do this I just can't think of it atm. 

I've know plenty of couples who were engages or married while still in school, plenty in which one person spends more and the other saves , plenty who disagree about monetary priorities , there are plenty of people who would use credit cards to furnish their homes , there are people who would think its weird for parents to help their doctor daughter buy a house or furniture, I know couples who don't vacation together at all.     Your sister isn't telling you this so you really don't know how bothered she is. Maybe she is getting bullied or taken advantage of or maybe she just gets annoyed sometimes. 
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: miranova on August 25, 2013, 11:16:34 AM
There is no "normal", it's all up to the individual couple. 

However, the more I think about this thread, the more I think that your sister's venting and oversharing is a big part of the problem here.  You say she is happy and in love, yet your mother would never even know that she was crying in India if she had not made a point to tell her that story.  In fact most of their financial issues would not be known to either of you if she did not complain about them.  So she is putting on a happy face sometimes but seems to be calling her mother to complain quite a bit.

I think that if your sister is unhappy with her relationship and you want to help, you could encourage her to grow a polite spine and stick up for herself, tell her husband "no" when he makes unreasonable money demands, and for the love of Pete to STOP complaining/whining/venting to her mother about it.  All that does is make your mother worry, make her hate her son in law, and put you in the middle. 
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Allyson on August 25, 2013, 11:20:16 AM
One thing to keep in mind, is that I would really wonder about how accurate your mother's information is. She has 'traditional' views on gender roles, so already is not predisposed to like the situation. And, your sister never talks to you about it. This makes me wonder if your mother is really putting her own spin on the situation. Something like, oh, your sister says "gotta go, picking up the laundry" and your mother turns that into "Sis has to ALL the laundry and household chores!"

I think your mother has a clearly-stated bias here, and so I would really wonder how much of what she was saying was how your sister would actually see the situation.

My partner and I do a 2/3 to 1/3 split with me making 2/3s of the income and him doing 2/3s of the 'around the house' stuff, and even that will get weird reactions from family members. People make odd assumptions when things aren't what they expect, or how they things 'should be'.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: asb8 on August 25, 2013, 12:35:56 PM
I'm saying this is the situation, this is what I think based on the info I get on a regular basis from my mother. Do other people see a problem in the situation, have they been in it themselves so I can say sonething to my mother. She doesn't allow herself to be beandipped!

Then you will have to learn how or you will have to be blunt and tell her you Will Not Discuss the subject.  The mechanics/finances/decisions of your sisters marriage are of absolutely no concern to you or your mother and anything otherwise is completely inappropriate your sister has made her choices and unless she says something directly to you, Stay Out of It. 

I can't imagine your sister would be at all please to know that not only have posted details about her marriage on a public message board, you have passed judgment on that information as well.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: edgypeanuts on August 25, 2013, 01:14:09 PM
Do other people see a problem in the situation, have they been in it themselves so I can say something to my mother. She doesn't allow herself to be beandipped!

I don't discuss this with my sister. I do think she has made her own choice.

I do not see a problem.  I would mention it to my sister, just as an aside that Mom is concerned and that maybe she is not the best to vent to.  Your sister may then let you know if this is a problem or not. 

Marriages are all different.  My husband I often take trips etc separately.  We love to be together, but we also like our alone time and we have different interests.  I know it seems odd to my mom when I mention that he is going to City for a show and I am staying home or going to visit friends, because that is not how most people do things,  But she loves him dearly and knows that this is what works for us. 
We also have somewhat different priorities as far as money goes, but we will both concede if something is more important to the other.  For example, I think that our living room did not need repainting just because we are getting a new floor, but my husband really wanted a fresh coat of paint before the floor goes in.  It is not a big deal to me, so we repainted. 

I could see the furnature being like that- I would have been fine with just Ikea, but he wanted the better stuff.  It wasn't a big deal to me and I liked the other furnature so we went for it.  It all comes down to how comfortable your sister is with things and so far I am not seeing that as a problem.  The first year of marriage is a lot of adjustment. 

I think the gold digger comments are out of line, he is an engineer- he has already had a lot of schooling and a decent job.  He is currently in school not sitting around.  Part of his tendency to spend money may be because he had a decent lifestyle as an engineer, if things are getting out of control then that is something the two of them need to discuss. 

There are lots of ways to do things and different is not wrong.  My husband and I retain separate accounts and just split up who pays which bills.  It is all our money and we do not get into splitting hairs, but it is easier for me to pay bills on my schedule and we have different ways of setting up our accounts.  It is weird I suppose that we share money but have separate banks, but once again, we talk and it works for us. 

I would tell your mom that your sister is a smart capable woman and she can rein in her husband if she feels she needs to.  One of my nieces married a guy who switches jobs frequently and does other things that would drive me nuts, but he treats he well and loves her and is a great Dad.  She is happy and that is the bottom line. 
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: veryfluffy on August 25, 2013, 01:23:30 PM
One thing to keep in mind, is that I would really wonder about how accurate your mother's information is. She has 'traditional' views on gender roles, so already is not predisposed to like the situation. And, your sister never talks to you about it. This makes me wonder if your mother is really putting her own spin on the situation.

I think this is an excellent point. It is all hearsay, coming from someone who has a clear bias against the situation.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: suzieQ on August 25, 2013, 01:44:54 PM
How is he a gold digger if he's going back to school? He IS planning on working again, he's paying for his own school. It's an arrangement the sister agreed to.

Stay at home husbands aren't automatically gold diggers because they don't have income. That's an inconcievable assertion to me.

During the year they were engaged my sister was in the process of buying a house, which my parents were helping her with. He got very involved in the process, even emailing my parents directly with more expensive properties suggesting they help a bit more and go over their budget. Eventually a smaller house was settled on and my sister and my parents put down a large deposit. They then started to shop for furniture. My sis obviously wanted him to be involved as he would soon be moving in, but he pressed her to spend more and more money. She would have got everything from IKEA if she had a choice but he pushed for 'proper' furniture because it was their marital home and he wanted it to be nice. She paid for everything and to came to much much more than she wanted to pay. She would rather have built up their possessions but he wanted everything now.


He wants them to live a lifestyle they just can't afford until he is working as well.

They have just been in India for a wedding of his cousin who works out there and is marrying a local girl. My sister has paid for the flights and their accomodation at a 5 star hotel where all his family were staying. The family were all staying there for 10 days for a relaxing holiday, which is what my sis wanted to do as well, despite the cost (she dipped into savings), as she works such long hours she just wanted a break. however he wanted to see more of India and booked them onto a 5 day tour of the main cities and sights in the region.

She also drives a car that's a bit of an old banger but she loves it. However he is pushing her to get something new because he says it doesn't look good or fit her persona as a doctor! He has a little Golf that his parents helped him buy.


For 6 months of this first year of marriage she also had to work in a hospital 4 hours away, living in doctor's accommodation. She travelled home whenever she could, but it was often every 10 to 14 days. He only visited her once, preferring to spend time with his friends, saying she only had a single bed there and it wasn't comfortable. She would arrive home late in the evening for a 2 day visit and find no food in the fridge and him out with friends.  The one time he did go and visit her, he said to my Mum - "I had forgotten how much fun Emily is" we had a really nice weekend. She is HIS WIFE!!!!!!

************************************
My opinion of him being a gold digger is based on the bolded. Because he wants her to spend money she is making and doesn't want to spend on stuff. He is apparently pressuring her to spend more than she is comfortable spending. It has nothing to do with the staying at home part, it's the spending more than she wants to when she is the one making the money.

Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Two Ravens on August 25, 2013, 01:48:55 PM
How is he a gold digger if he's going back to school? He IS planning on working again, he's paying for his own school. It's an arrangement the sister agreed to.

Stay at home husbands aren't automatically gold diggers because they don't have income. That's an inconcievable assertion to me.

Because he wants her to spend money she is making and doesn't want to spend on stuff. He is apparently pressuring her to spend more than she is comfortable spending. It has nothing to do with the staying at home part, it's the spending more than she wants to when she is the one making the money.

We don't know if this is true. Everything is being filtered through the OP's mother. The mother could be projecting her own ideas onto the OP's sister's statement.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: sparksals on August 25, 2013, 01:50:35 PM
It's not my business. But I have to listen to my mother get very cross about it. Just wondered what other people's opinions were.


It is none of your mother's business either. 
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: sparksals on August 25, 2013, 01:53:29 PM
Wow, OK. To clarify:

My sister talks to my mum, my mum worries and she tells me, wanting to discuss it. She is also very traditional and believes in traditional marriage roles and can't get her head around a man willing to live off his wife. That's how I know everything I know.

I have never brought this up with my sister and have never discussed her relationship or talked badly about her husband. Because they live several hours from me and are very busy I don't see them that often which is why I don't know my BIL very well so my opinion is mostly on what I hear. I talk to my sis on the phone all the time, but we never discuss him.

I have tried telling my mum that they are adults, in an adult relationship and she should leave them to it, but it doesn't work. She is very overprotective of my sister as her youngest and she gets more cross if I say it's none of her business.

I posted everything here in the hope of getting an opinion from outside of my family. I guess that was clearly a bad move.


Just because your mother is traditional and has beliefs in traditional marriage, doesn't mean your sister and husband believe the same things.   It is obvious they don't believe as your mother does.


Why was it a bad move?  Because everyone has disagreed with you?  You have been a member here long enough to know you take your chances posting and that you will be told what you don't want to hear.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: sparksals on August 25, 2013, 01:55:41 PM
My opinion is that he is a gold-digger. I would have the same opinion if the roles were reversed, with the woman doing all the spending. But your sister married him knowing this about him. You can't do anything about it but bean dip when your Mom wants to talk about it, or simply tell your Mom it's none of anyone's business how they run their marriage. Sister needs to stop talking about it to Mom and talk about it to her husband.


I don't think he is a gold digger.  I think he doesn't have good responsibility with money. 


The guy is highly educated.  He successfully became an Engineer.  A very noble and highly educated profession and not an easy programme to take at university. 


Now he is going to Medical school.  It seems he does have high aspirations. 
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: suzieQ on August 25, 2013, 01:58:14 PM
My opinion is that he is a gold-digger. I would have the same opinion if the roles were reversed, with the woman doing all the spending. But your sister married him knowing this about him. You can't do anything about it but bean dip when your Mom wants to talk about it, or simply tell your Mom it's none of anyone's business how they run their marriage. Sister needs to stop talking about it to Mom and talk about it to her husband.


I don't think he is a gold digger.  I think he doesn't have good responsibility with money. 


The guy is highly educated.  He successfully became an Engineer.  A very noble and highly educated profession and not an easy programme to take at university. 


Now he is going to Medical school.  It seems he does have high aspirations.

I do agree with you there. I'll adjust my opinion to financially irresponsible.  8)
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: sparksals on August 25, 2013, 02:00:12 PM
How is he a gold digger if he's going back to school? He IS planning on working again, he's paying for his own school. It's an arrangement the sister agreed to.

Stay at home husbands aren't automatically gold diggers because they don't have income. That's an inconcievable assertion to me.

Because he wants her to spend money she is making and doesn't want to spend on stuff. He is apparently pressuring her to spend more than she is comfortable spending. It has nothing to do with the staying at home part, it's the spending more than she wants to when she is the one making the money.

We don't know if this is true. Everything is being filtered through the OP's mother. The mother could be projecting her own ideas onto the OP's sister's statement.


Yes and we know how accurate info is transferred during telephone game.  The mom is definitely putting her own spin on it.

Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: miranova on August 25, 2013, 02:17:48 PM
One partner wanting to spend more than the other on furniture, housing, cars and vacations is pretty typical.  Personally I wouldn't marry someone who had such vastly different ideas on personal finances than I do, however it is hardly an uncommon marital issue and doesn't make someone a gold digger.  The only problem I had was with the husband sending his future in-laws an email suggesting that their gift toward their house down payment should be increased.  IF this actually happened, that is completely awful and a horrendous etiquette violation.  That would be a huge red flag for me.  It's not his money, they were doing something nice by offering them a gift and the ONLY proper response is THANK YOU (or declining a monetary gift entirely). 

However, what's done is done.  It's in the past, and the sister went ahead with the marriage even after seeing that side of him.  It is her problem to deal with now.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: shhh its me on August 25, 2013, 02:21:02 PM
How is he a gold digger if he's going back to school? He IS planning on working again, he's paying for his own school. It's an arrangement the sister agreed to.

Stay at home husbands aren't automatically gold diggers because they don't have income. That's an inconcievable assertion to me.

Because he wants her to spend money she is making and doesn't want to spend on stuff. He is apparently pressuring her to spend more than she is comfortable spending. It has nothing to do with the staying at home part, it's the spending more than she wants to when she is the one making the money.

Even if it is true so what(that he wants he to spend more on things then she does not that he's a golddigger) Finances are one of the thing couples frequently argue about.   If it was " I want a sports car , get me one for Christmas. I need a Rolex for my birthday and we should get a villa" I might say hmm "maybe gold-digger."  but "I don't want to have temporary furniture and you should get yourself a nicer car."   She can and does say no. He saved up enough to pay for medical school so he's not a total penniless spend thrift and she saved enough so that they could travel international for 2 weeks in a 5 star resort , buy house and furnish it fully.  I could reverse this just as easily " I've gone back to school to become a doctor like my husband , we'll have more in common and our incomes will be closer once I'm done. He knew this was my plan when we got engaged. Now he makes me grovel to buy anything other then flat-pack furniture, I wasn't suggesting we go into debt  he wants to get everything at ikea and I said "no we need nicer furniture and we have the money in the bank it and it still leaves us with a substantial savings. We don't have car payments and our house payment is affordable.  We're suppose to be a team I don't think its reasonable to put everything in our lives on hold until I'm working too. We just don't need this much savings. We don't take any of the weekend trips I suggest and he wants to save on our vacations."

He may be near the extreme side of spending but she sounds to be near the extreme side of saving as well , hopefully they will balance each other out.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: shhh its me on August 25, 2013, 02:32:16 PM
One partner wanting to spend more than the other on furniture, housing, cars and vacations is pretty typical.  Personally I wouldn't marry someone who had such vastly different ideas on personal finances than I do, however it is hardly an uncommon marital issue and doesn't make someone a gold digger.  The only problem I had was with the husband sending his future in-laws an email suggesting that their gift toward their house down payment should be increased.  IF this actually happened, that is completely awful and a horrendous etiquette violation.  That would be a huge red flag for me.  It's not his money, they were doing something nice by offering them a gift and the ONLY proper response is THANK YOU (or declining a monetary gift entirely). 

However, what's done is done.  It's in the past, and the sister went ahead with the marriage even after seeing that side of him.  It is her problem to deal with now.

This I agree with too.  I think its possible that Sis and parents had an idea "we will put XX down and that will be YY percent down" and his idea may have been "put xx amount down but lower the YY /2  percent "

From what op has said it sounds like their idea of how much saves and debt makes a couple financially secure may be vastly different.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: Amara on August 25, 2013, 02:35:14 PM
So much good advice from other eHellions. I will just add that I think the best route for you to go is to call your sister and tell her that everything she shares with Mom gets passed on to you. And because you feel that her marriage is private maybe she should consider sharing any problems with a professional therapist who can actually help rather than Mom who uses the information to reinforce her own thoughts about the marriage. I especially like what one previous poster mentioned and that is whatever Mom learns will color not just now but forever her view of her son-in-law, and that won't make for good relations down the road.

As for dealing with Mom, I agree you shouldn't bother beandipping, just walk away or hang up at the first mention of it.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: JoieGirl7 on August 25, 2013, 02:49:35 PM
OP, I do understand why your mother is concerned with whatever it is she is hearing from your sister.  It does seem as if your BIL is taking advantage of her by the way he spends money coupled with being tone deaf to her needs (like booking a tour when she wants to stay put).
 
But, your sister is not a victim.  She knew that he was going to medical school before they were married.  She knew that he made these decisions that would greatly change what their life together would be and she still married him.

Now, people do stupid things for love all the time.  They ignore red flags and they give up their own dreams and aspirations in favor of what someone else wants.  It's unfortunate but it happens all the time.

Given that he is using "his own money" to pay for school while using money that your sister earns for every thing else it does seem to me that he is using her.  But, she is allowing herself to be used.

There is a certain power in playing the victim and that what it seems your sis is doing in complaining to your mom all the time.

You say: What I do have a problem with is that he proposed shortly after, knowing that he had no job, and wouldn't have one for 5 years.

Your sister accepted the proposal!  He didn't force her into it.  I think that needs to be the basis of any conversation that you have with you mom.  Sis is an adult.  She made the decisions that she did knowing what the deal would be.

And since you are paying attention to all this, as some have said, realize that if you someday call mom to complain about the same sort of thing, you know what she will be liked.  But, more than that, seeing how your sister is being treated and being unhappy about it, make sure that for yourself you don't end up in the same position.

Because while you think it couldn't happen, love does strange things to people and logic flies out the window!

Also, you may want to tell your mother that by taking her daughter's side against your BIL that it leaves your daughter in the position of actually defending him when that may not be what she really wants to do.  In other words, your mother's constant criticism of the situation could prolong it when it would otherwise fall on its own.  The trick is being supportive without influencing or otherwise playing a part of the drama of their relationship.

When sister calls to complain that he booked the tour, mom should say, "well, you (your sis) didn't have to go.  You have your own money, you could have stayed where you wanted to stay."

It really can be as simple as that.  When your sister is made to accept responsibility for her own decisions and their consequences, maybe she will be a little more careful about making them and standing up for what she wants instead of going along and then calling mom to complain.
Title: Re: Wife is the breadwinner
Post by: cass2591 on August 25, 2013, 03:51:50 PM
As for etiquette, your role is to refuse to discuss your sister's marriage with your mother (or anyone) at all. It won't be pleasant because your mother will probably keep hassling you but stick to your guns. Do so politely and you're within the bounds of etiquette.

You have a choice. One is temporary hell and the other is likely to go on for a very long time.

Thread locked because this was really a rant.